Images show a new Asiatic lioness settling at London Zoo as part of a global breeding program for endangered species.
Four-year-old Arya, who traveled to London from Paignton Zoo last week, ventured for the first time on Thursday April 29 – where zookeepers spotted her tail waving among the leaves.
Zookeeper Tara Humphreys said, “Arya is a lively young lion who particularly enjoys climbing trees, which she will find in abundance in her new home in Lion Land.
“Her favorite scent is peppermint, which she loves to roll, so we made sure to stock up on fresh bunches as a housewarming gift.
“Right now, Arya is sticking mostly to nighttime explorations of her new paddock, so we’ve given her some privacy while she settles down.
“But we saw her looking at us from behind the bushes when she slipped out today, and she will venture more and more as she grows in confidence.”
To make way for Arya’s arrival, zookeepers bid farewell to London lionesses Heidi, Indi and Rubi, who moved to Schwerin Zoo in Germany on April 8.
The 550 mile journey was made possible by ZSL’s partners, Liontrust, who outfitted the big cats with custom crates to ensure they travel in style to their new home.
Kate Sanders, manager of the Big Cat team, commented: “Arya is also the daughter of one of the former lions at the London Zoo, Lucifer, so it is particularly fitting that she is here, where her father has spent. so many happy years.
“Many of our regular visitors will have fond memories of Lucifer and we are sure they will be delighted to visit his daughter in the coming months.”
Simon Hildrey, CMO at Liontrust said: “When we first partnered with ZSL over eight years ago, Lucifer was the male lion at ZSL London Zoo, so it’s wonderful to keep the ‘tail’ up. ‘upon Arya’s arrival.
“We are proud to have been able to support the safe journeys of all lionesses and through that the conservation work of ZSL.”
In time, Arya will be introduced to the handsome male, Bhanu, to form the zoo’s new pride – the keepers hope the cubs will follow.
“We all have our fingers crossed that Arya and Bhanu are the perfect match,” said team manager Kate. “I hope love will blossom very soon.”
Both movements were planned as part of the European species breeding program – to preserve the genetic diversity in the program while protecting a reserve population of Asiatic lions in zoos.
An endangered species, wild Asiatic lions are found today in a single small area of Gujarat, India, where around 500 remain in a forest the size of London.
ZSL London Zoo’s Land of the Lions, opened in 2016 by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, is designed to tell the story of these majestic felines and the work done to protect them.
To visit Arya and her friends, tickets can be purchased here.